Human activities are driving climate change and biodiversity loss on a planetary scale. Resulting impacts on the Earth System are so great they define a new geological epoch: the anthropocene. With the human population expanding beyond 7 billion in the 21st century, global environmental sustainability is the defining challenge of our time. The transition to sustainable development, however, requires a far better understanding of complex socio-ecological systems at local and national scales of management action. To that end, a key research goal is to build functioning digital simulations, ‘avatars’, of model islands, cities, and eventually countries. Such advances will pave the way for a Predictive, Preventive, Personalized, Participatory, and ultimately a Planetary (P5) approach to policy making for sustainability. The outcome: communities and countries managing their ecosystem wellness and avoiding the social consequences of ecological collapse.
The Island Digital Ecosystem Avatars (IDEA) Project is inspired by efforts to digitize an entire island ecosystem from 'genes to satellites' and was initiated by researchers at UC Berkeley, CNRS-EPHE, ETH Zürich, Oxford University, UC Santa Barbara and the MCR LTER. It will draw on the significant progress being made to model complex systems at other scales of biological organization - from single cells to multicellular organisms, including humans. The IDEA Project will harness and extend these efforts to build advanced computational models of a range of complex socio-ecological systems, particularly islands (coupled natural-human systems) and cities (built environment).
Understanding how biological systems function is a massive challenge requiring detailed integrative study within the system, while taking into account external processes that influence the internal dynamics. To achieve global environmental sustainability, we must apply the computational lens to the units of biosocial organization that are subject to policymaking. Although modeling entire socio-ecological systems is still in its infancy, doing so will prove scientifically productive in the short-term and is societally essential in the long-term.
Identifying clearly defined units of socio-ecological organization for study is essential to our task. They should be big enough to contain human societies, but small enough for meaningful collaboration across diverse scientific disciplines. They must be accessible, both logistically and including the active support (engagement) of the local community. Island systems are particularly attractive for sustainability science because they are clearly bounded (relatively closed) and ongoing studies at larger scales (e.g., global climate models) can help incorporate external influences simply and effectively.
Like organisms, each socio-ecosystem is unique, and indeed, such variation is a core challenge across the life sciences. Molecular biology, however, has demonstrated the power of focusing on a small number of model systems (e.g., the nematode C. elegans) that can be studied in sufficient depth, but also compared with other systems (e.g., the fruit fly D. melanogaster) to draw general rules. The IDEA project will apply a similar approach to a range of model socio-ecosystems.
For initial proof of concept, we are assembling an international group of researchers, coordinated through the new Moorea Ecostation Center for Advanced Studies, to build a virtual representation of Moorea - the Moorea Island Digital Ecosystem Avatar. The Moorea IDEA will incorporate observations, experiments, data, and theory across a coupled 3-D marine-terrestrial landscape to model how physical, chemical, biological, and social processes interact to shape the island’s phenotype. We take advantage of the Moorea Biocode Project that has already characterized every species (>1mm) on the island from its coral reefs to mountain forests, including genetic sequences and digital photographs.
Why Moorea? A volcanic oceanic island about the size of San Francisco, 15 5m northwest of Tahiti, Moorea has significant scientific capacity through its two international research stations (CNRS-EPHE CRIOBE since 1971 and UC Berkeley Gump Station since 1985). In terms of its biodiversity, Moorea is probably the best-known tropical ecosystem in the world, hosting France’s Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Research (LABEX “CORAIL”) and the U.S. National Science Foundation’s only coral reef long-term ecological research (LTER) site. Moorea is a natural laboratory spanning marine and terrestrial environments (to 1,207m) that is constrained enough to be tractable, but sufficiently large (132 sq. Km) to contain all the elements of a complex socio-ecosystem, including a sizable human population (~ 17,000).
Why Coral Reefs? A “massive jigsaw puzzle for scientists”, coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea and millions of people depend on them for food security and other ecosystem services, such as storm protection and sources of medicines. Indeed, it is said that: “no other habitat on Earth is of such importance to humans”. Tropical island reefs, however, are under threat and represent ‘canaries in the mine’ due to their sensitivity to global change. Understanding interactions between island social systems and environments, and of differential cultural responses to ecosystem change, informs policies for sustainability and resilience. Such research is truly interdisciplinary and contributes to conceptual integration across the natural and social sciences.
Islands lend themselves to a systems approach, and network theory provides a conceptual framework for the Moorea IDEA. New high-throughput technologies (e.g., metagenomic sequencing and autonomous imaging systems) leverage the Biocode ‘parts list’ and enable visualization of the island’s natural-human “interactome”, a term we extend up to the ecosystem from its original use in the cell. The Moorea IDEA will support process-oriented research along with open data-sharing platforms to provide a wealth of science driven data. Combined with new analytical techniques and theory, this will develop a virtuous cycle whereby data driven discovery informs the design of mechanistic research, including experiments and further long-term observations. The key is not just big data, but linked, complete data, where a significant proportion of the system is ‘datafied’ for visualization and analysis. In this way, we will be able to assess how alternate policy scenarios might influence biodiversity and ecosystem services.
The Insular Research Center and Environment Observatory is a field station for French as well as international researchers. Located in Moorea, French Polynesia, the CRIOBE is connected with the Practical School of High Studies (EPHE) and is part of the CNRS French marine stations national network.
The CRIOBE's scientific activities are focused on applied and fundamental research, education and training (Thesis and master's degree student's internships) and information (press articles, awareness rising, science fair).
Research is mostly focused on the Polynesian coralline ecosystem but may also concern ground insular topics related to the previous...
The center is directed by Serge Planes, Research Director at the CNRS and studies Director at the EPHE. Several permanent employees are in charge of the maintenance of the buildings and equipements and are welcoming the researchers and technicians coming for specific projects.
Data are collected with funding support of the Service d'Observation "CORAIL" and under the CRIOBE infrastructure and facilities.
The University of California's Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station (Gump Station) was established in 1985 on land donated by Mr. Gump to UC Berkeley. With ~33 acres located on the waterfront at the entrance to Cook's Bay, the Gump Station provides exceptionally easy access to tropical marine systems (lagoon, outer-reef, and offshore), as well as inland to a diversity of terrestrial/freshwater habitats and archeological sites. It can host up to 50 researchers and students in onsite housing and provides field transport (boats, vehicles) as well as a range of laboratory facilities including flow-through seawater systems. The Gump Station has housed the NSF Moorea Coral Reef Long Term Ecological Research (MCR-LTER) site since 2004.
The Tetiaroa Society Ecostation is located on Motu Onetahi, one of the 12 islets of Tetiaroa. Designed and built to LEED Platinum standards, the Tetiaroa Ecostation comprises of a housing facility, small dry lab and a marine lab. The Ecostation was gifted to Tetiaroa Society from Pacific Beachcomber to fulfill the shared vision of sustainable interdependence. The location of Tetiaroa allows immediate access to reef environments, archeological sites, brackish lakes and direct access to deep ocean water (pumped from 900m as part of The Brando hotel's air-conditioning system). Visitors have access to boats, kayaks, diving equipment (pre-booking required), seawater tables, aquarium and dry laboratory space, along with housing and meals.
08:00-08:30 Breakfast 08:30-10:00 Session 1: 4D Model 08:30-08:35 Welcome (Matthias Troyer) 08:35-09:00 4D model (Alex Kosenkov) 09:00-09:20 Remote sensing I (Armin Grün and Tao Guo) 09:20-09:40 The need for modeling (Sally Holbrook and Russ Schmitt) 09:40-10:00 Discussions 10:00-10:30 Coffee break 10:30-12:00 Session 2: Mapping I 10:30-10:50 Island and reef scale multibeam mapping (Jim Hench) 10:50-11:10 Satellite-based water depth mapping (Antoine Collin) 11:10-11:30 Lidar-based water depth mapping (Yves Pastol) 11:30-12:00 Discussions 12:00-13:30 Lunch break 13:30-15:00 Session 3: Physical Modeling I 13:30-13:50 Weather models (Marania Hopuare) 13:50-14:10 Hydrology models and measurements (Ana Barros) 14:10-14:30 Wave and circulation modelling (Jim Hench) 14:30-15:00 Discussions 15:00-15:30 Coffee break 15:30 - Session 4: Working groupsTuesday
08:00-08:30 Breakfast 08:30-10:00 Session 5: Physical and biological models 08:30-08:50 Circulation and coral polyp modelling (Takashi Nakamura) 08:50-09:10 Modeling phys-bio interactions on reefs (Johanna Rosman) 09:10-09:30 Spatial-temporal modeling of forests (Heike Lischke) 09:30-10:00 Discussions 10:00-10:30 Coffee break 10:30-12:00 Session 6: 10:30-10:50 An overview of the Moorea IDEA (Neil Davies) 10:50-11:10 Ocean circulation models (Nicolas Gruber and Matthias Muennich) 11:10-11:30 Fluid flow at many scales (Petros Koumoutakos) 11:30-12:00 Discussions 12:00-13:30 Lunch break 13:30-15:00 Project Planning (plenary) 15:00-15:30 Coffee break 15:30-18:00 Session 7: Working groups 19:00-22:00 Conference dinnerWednesday
08:00-08:30 Breakfast 08:30-10:00 Session 8: Mapping II 08:30-08:50 Underwater photogrammetry (Alessandro Capra) 08:50-09:10 Remote sensing I (Armin Grün and Tao Guo) 09:10-10:00 Discussions 10:00-10:30 Coffee break 10:30-11:10 Future Cities Lab (Reinhard Koenig) 11:10-12:00 Project Planning (plenary) 12:00-13:30 Lunch break 13:30-14:45 Drafting of summary document 14:45-15:15 Transfer to downtown campus 16:00-18:00 Lecture by Steven Chu
The series of workshops are designed to launch the IDEA Consortium, establishing its scope and organisation. The goal is to develop a detailed roadmap by the end of 2014 for building the first 'avatar' (computational model/digital simulation) of a complete Social-Ecological System: the Moorea IDEA.
The meetings have formalized into a series of IDEA Consortium Meetings that involve all collaborating investigators and more focused IDEA Workshops that address specific tasks.